Gary Comerford, Chair of the Shaw Festival’s Board of Governors, today announced the appointment of Elaine Calder as its new Executive Director. Currently President of the Oregon Symphony, Ms. Calder will return to Canada and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake to assume her new position, one she held earlier in her career from 1990 to 1994.
In his announcement, Mr. Comerford said: “Since her time at The Shaw in the ‘90’s we’ve grown from a 20th century organization to one of the leading arts institutions of the 21st century and we’re excited that Elaine is going to be a part of that new era in our evolution. We’ve witnessed the extraordinary work Elaine has done in major arts institutions in both Canada and the United States over the past 17 years and we’re thrilled that she is bringing this cumulative experience back to us.”
Ms. Calder is recognized as one of North American’s most sought after arts administrators. After leaving The Shaw in 1994, Ms. Calder went on to hold executive positions in the Canadian Opera Company, the National Arts Centre, the Edmonton Symphony, the Hartford Stage in Connecticut and the Oregon Symphony — where she has been President of that renowned institution since 2007. During her tenure, not only has the Oregon Symphony achieved substantial growth in its financial stability, organizational strength and artistic excellence, but has also reached many artistic milestones including the orchestra’s Carnegie Hall debut, the resumption of radio broadcasts on All Classical FM and an agreement with the Dutch recording company PentaTone, which launched the highly successful CD Music for a Time of War.
Commenting on her return to The Shaw, Ms. Calder stated: “I left The Shaw in 1994, never dreaming I’d return as anything other than a member of the audience — which I have been every season since then. To me it’s a magical place: a theatre company committed to excellence, intelligence and entertainment, working on a broad canvas, in a beautiful setting. I look forward to joining Jackie and the board and helping to ensure its continued success and a strong future.” She went on to note: “The world has changed a lot since I left in 1994, as has The Shaw, and all of us in our business have had to absorb, understand and adapt to these major changes. I’ve experienced and learned a lot managing five arts organizations since then, in both Canada and the States. I hope this outside perspective will add to and strengthen the work of the managers, artists and technicians who are committed to supporting Jackie’s vision.”
Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell is thrilled with the news: “I have known and respected Elaine and her work for many years. Her amazing administrative prowess and deep knowledge of the North American arts scene are legendary, but what really singles her out is her passionate belief in the art and the artists she works with. I am thrilled to have her as a partner to take the Shaw Festival bravely forward into its next half-century.”
Lead by a team consisting of Canadian and U.S. Shaw Festival Board Members, the extensive 8-month search for a new Executive Director yielded dozens of applications from candidates on both sides of the border, including applicants from Ireland and the United Kingdom. Ms. Calder will join the Shaw Festival Company September 4, 2012.